HOW TO: Write a screenplay

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As a person who is writing in her own time, and at her own pace, I’m going to share my journey of screenwriting with you. It’s not as hard as it seems and you need to invest time and energy into screenwriting if you are serious about it. As if this is the only thing you can envision doing happily for the rest of your life. Believe in yourself and it will pay off like with any other employee in their career. The only difference is, as you are writing, you are your own boss, your own manager. Like the sound of that?

For all you aspiring writers, here’s 20 simple steps I’ve taken in writing a screenplay. I believe it will help you too.

  1. Learn how a screenplay should look like. I’ve brought a book of the dark knight trilogy scripts on Amazon, it has done wonders when I have no access to internet to download scripts or prone to distraction because of the internet. You learn parentheticals like O.S (Off screen) and V.O (Voice over) and when to insert them, how to open scenes with brief but rich description and how to keep dialogue minimal but interesting to reveal both character and push the plot forward.
  2. Realise how many pages a script should be. Usually 90-120 pages.
  3. Master the classic three act structure.
  4. Find genres which suit you. Mine are Thriller (Fantasy kind-no hobbits included) & Drama.
  5. Research on your ideals genres. What kind of films has been made, did it win awards and what for? Who starred in it? And what kind of characters they played?
  6. Master the 8 sequence structure. http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/structure/the-sequence/45-the-eight-sequences
  7. Master the Five plot points. http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting-101/screenplay/five-plot-point-breakdowns
  8. Add the 3 act, five plot point and 8 sequence structure together.
  9. Develop your characters, don’t add too much. You need a main or two, and 3-4 supporting characters (who help or hinder the main) and an antagonist to cause conflict. To keep things original, try to make main character a different race from usual main characters. Maybe Hispanic? Bengali? Use their cultural background to help or hinder than in ways the usual white male protagonist can’t have. Maybe it’s a good chance to educate people about cultural differences? E.g. Muslim character really loves mangoes to the point of obsession and is upset that they can’t attend the Friday prayer at mosque because they’re a woman. So pretends to dress up as a man. Or create a protest not only with other Muslim women but men and other people of other cultures.
  10. Learn about reversals in movies. Brainstorm. Pick and choose whatever will compliment your story and apply: CLICK here: http://www.studentfilmmakers.com/news/how-to/17-Scene-Reversal-Ideas-PDF.pdf
  11. Get a script writing software, Celtx, Abode…http://screenwriting-software-review.toptenreviews.com/
  12. Create an outline of your movie using the 3 act, five plot point and 8 sequence structure. I use word for this. And I have also character profiles on there. Hobbies. Give character at least 2 hobbies that will come in handy in the movie and breathe life into them.
  13. Do MBTI personality type research. Label your characters archetypes. It will help you and others to understand them better. You will learn what motivates them and why. You will learn how they mesh with others. Then give them traits, e.g. calm, shy, annoying or cruel.
  14. Write your first draft, even if scenes don’t to connect to each other. Just get that written. Try at least a scene a day. I do three scenes a day. Set a start date and a deadline date. I have set myself 3 months maximum to produce a script. In the movie industry, it’s 8 weeks- roughly 2 months. Practice how to write stringently until you can write like a professional screenwriter.
  15. Fill in the blanks. Remember, every scene has to have a purpose.
  16. Share with trusted friends. Ask what worked, what didn’t work and what they liked.
  17. Polish screenplay, edit it and re-draft again and again until it flows and you can visualize it into a movie.
  18. If you can juggle two screenplays at the same time, then kudos to you. I’m doing it at the moment. It’s better than way because you’ll have a portfolio to show to a producer/director.
  19. Save your screenplay as PDF’s and on a couple of USB sticks. And in any other way you can.
  20. Visit the sites listed below to master your screenwriting craft.

Reversals

http://www.studentfilmmakers.com/news/how-to/17-Scene-Reversal-Ideas-PDF.pdf

Five Plot Points

http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting-101/screenplay/five-plot-point-breakdowns

Eight Sequence Structure

http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/structure/the-sequence/45-the-eight-sequences

Screenwriting advice

http://www.bang2write.com/

MBTI tumblr: Includes characters MBTI-analysed from films, TV shows and other media

http://funkymbtifiction.tumblr.com/

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Best Letter: To Writers

Holstee_Manifesto_Poster_Letterpress_Print_grande (1)

(The Holstee Manifesto by Dave, Mike & Fabian)

I was sitting in a room and found this sweet poster on the wall, my eyes were drawn to the words ‘YOUR LIFE’. And it got me thinking, how many of us writers struggle?

Here’s a little freestyle writing for you when you read the poster.

Read these words as you apply for your day jobs to pay the bills.

Remember the times when others said you can’t make a living out of writing.

Or simply laughed when you told them you just loved to write,

Hanging out in the safety of your bedroom,

or a coffee shop with the best mocha perhaps,

Some of us can’t envision a career other than writing,

Some of us can juggle between teaching, serving others coffee and writing copy for companies,

Remember the time where your poems were stuffed into your folder,

As you worked on CV’s and cover letters to impress that employer and the HR dep,

and everyone else of course,

but life is short, so..

Start doing the things you love.

This is your life.

Writers write to enrich lives. 🙂

HOW TO: EVOKE SYMPATHY FOR YOUR CHARACTERS

I feel that making people care for you characters through sympathy is necessary. And this article is going to be a bit technical so caution is strongly advised. 🙂 

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 *Movie examples*


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BRUCE WAYNE (BATMAN BEGINS): – Going into extensive points here because it’s one of my favourite movies.

  1. After confessing he was going to kill his parent’s murderer’s, his only friend Rachel, slaps him twice, looks at him like he’s a monster and says the worst thing ever to him, “Your father would be ashamed of you.”

Later this is followed up by Bruce throwing the gun away in disgust. What I felt was sadness for Bruce because I realised he was lonely and without a sense of direction. This is the point where he realises he’s made a mistake and he’s upset about it. He’s a good guy with a good heart but he’s almost went in the wrong direction because of his pain. He was also hurting of what Rachel said to him, Bruce holds his father in high esteem and to be told that his dad would be ashamed of him and that too from someone who means a lot to him is gut wrenching.

  1. Gotham’s most feared crime boss-Falcone insults Bruce’s dead father, has his men beat up a weak and young Bruce before throwing him out of the club. This all happens after when Bruce finds out just how corrupt Gotham really is, that the judge who handled the case of his parent’s murderer, is actually no more than Falcone’s plaything- he’s dining with ladies in Falcone’s gangster club. Police officers, government officials are also enjoying themselves in this corrupt place.

Falcone really hurts Bruce by saying, “He said your father begged. Begged. Like a dog.”

“You haven’t thought about your lady friend at the DA’s office or your old butler….. People from your world have so much to lose.”

At this point Bruce is not able to fight back because of his fear. He may not be a martial arts expert at this stage but here, he lacks the will to fight back probably because he doesn’t believe in himself and he wants to keep his butler Alfred and his friend Rachel safe. This scene confirmed that Bruce is a good person and cares about others than himself. He’s evoked my sympathy.

STANLEY IPKISS (THE MASK)

He’s such a nice guy that he lets people walk all over him. He gets bullied by his boss, his apartment manager Mrs Peaman, denied access to Coco Bongo club, manhandled and thrown on the ground by club mobsters. His friend ain’t even a friend because he ignores him most of the time and is too self indulgent. Stanley even gets ripped off by a pair of mechanics and given a banger car that literally falls apart.

But the strongest scene is when Stanley is on the bridge, after his car breaks down, he sees something floating in the water. Thinking it is a person, he jumps in to save them only finding out that it is a pile of floating rubbish.

We learn that Stanley is quick to help others at the expense of his own safety even if he is a doormat. He is too polite because he doesn’t want to disrupt harmony.


                           *USE YOUR CHARACTERS WEAKNESS TO EVOKE SYMPATHY FOR THEM *


Personally, I’m using MBTI (psychology archetypes) to do this. There’s two types of people in the world, Extroverted and Introverted.

Here’s the eight cognitive functions of MBTI.

Fi– Introverted Feeling

Fe– Extroverted Feeling

Si– Introverted Sensing

Se– Extroverted Sensing

Ti– Introverted Thinking

Te– Extroverted Thinking

Ni- Introverted Intuition

Ne– Extroverted Intuition

Humans primarily use four of these in fixed order. (You might want to research on your own more about MBTI).

There’s something called the inferior function, everyone has four primary ones.

Taken from this website: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/understanding-mbti-type-dynamics/the-fourth-or-inferior-function.htm

“We often call the fourth function the inferior function when it emerges without conscious intention and tries to overpower the dominant and auxiliary. This can lead to a person feeling “in the grip” of his or her inferior function. The inferior may also manifest under stress, when resources of the dominant and auxiliary are exhausted. When the inferior function manifests in someone’s life, that person may say, “I don’t know what got into me.” It often feels like being out of control (outside the conscious ego). The inferior may manifest in negative, immature ways.”

The inferior fuction can be can be a way of evoking sympathy.

Like Bruce Wayne’s type is INTJ (Ni,Te,Fi,Se), so his inferior function would be SE- extroverted sensing, he acts irrationally and in the moment, like his decision to kill his parent’s murderers, like his choice of walking into a dangerous gangster bar without preparation.

Or in Stanley Ipkiss’ case who seems to be an ISFP, we can use the dominant function to evoke character sympathy, ISFP- (Fi,Se,Ni,Te) FI- introverted feeling- the desire to stand strongly by own  moral principles and maintain harmony even at the expense of one’s confidence. Stanley suffers from this.

My advice: (for myself also)

Take their weaknesses and create a list of all the things can go wrong for them because of it.

Give legit reasons why they make these choices and not avoid them e.g. Bruce is still in pain over his parent’s death.

Read more MBTI, keep researching. Knowledge is power.

HOW TO WRITE: The First Meeting Between Your Hero and Heroine

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Often called a “Meet Cute”, this is the scene which has to strike a chord with your readers because it’s the meeting of two dynamic personalities- two people who will eventually become a couple. They might have met before in your story but for the readers, it’s the first time they are meeting these two individuals and it’s your first chance to make us want another scene with them.

There are five things that must be established in a “Meet Cute” Scene:

  1. A reason for the hero and heroine to respect each other– Mutual skills, fearlessness, something admirable or cute. Readers have to feel as if they are each other’s equals.
  2. Both the characters are right for each other. They are essential for each other’s development and wellbeing/happiness even if they do not realize this at the time.
  3. Character dynamic, witty banter and chemistry– this man/woman isn’t a potential brother/sister or just a pal but a possible romantic interest.
  4. Conflict– What is going to keep these two from getting together right away? Their personalities? Their morals? Their motivations?
  5. Appropriate Setting– It is the third and final character which will enhance the meeting further. Avoiding cliché meetings life café and park, choosing unusual places (like store-room or an arcade) can work the magic. What objects surround the couple to be, how can they serve a purpose in making the scene memorable?

This is an opportunity to let the personalities shine and let the characters find out the most interesting thing about their future spouse/partner.

If you add depth into the meet cute between your leading man and lady, you’ll make their first meeting even more interesting.

Acceptance of being a Writer

If we accept our ambition, we will learn how to become better at it along the way.

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Being a writer is a hard thing to admit.

Only for those who love it so much that they can’t foresee any other career than writing.

You want to write novels, screenplays, PR material, articles and just about any kind of content. It’s easy to believe others who tell you that you cannot make a career out of writing.

As new teen, I was often told by my mentor that I wanted to be a journalist because there was no such thing as writing. She had decided for me that I wanted to be a journalist and I kept getting frustrated because that’s not who I wanted to be. I didn’t just want to go out, find news and make articles out of it.

I wanted to create things, move people and inspire them. I wanted to give escapism and craft works of art.

I was also into movies-directors/screenwriters must be so lucky to see their work in visual form, seeing it all come to fruition. Despite that hard work.

In this world, a writer is seen as lazy because it’s a hobby. You can get called- like I often did in school, THAT WRITER CHICK.

The one who spent half her lunchtimes on the library computer, writing endless stories all inspired from movies she’s seen and books she’s read.

I had another mentor who taught me all about commas and speech-marks. Another one taught me about double spacing and to avoid repetition. It’s small things like these that give you confidence- I didn’t know jack all about the structure of literature but picked it up on the way because I never gave up on writing.

Because I hadn’t accepted writing as more than a hobby, I looked for jobs that I had no interest in, I let myself be talked into applying for standard jobs and trying to do what everyone else was doing.

“As writing wasn’t a career”. 

HOT JIN

Turns out, it didn’t work for me. I found myself longing to write, jumping at any chance to write even after exhaustion.

Depending on where you live, your writing career will be affected in some ways. You can move to a big city, network there but if you want to stay home for now, you’re going to have to keep writing and build an online presence. You’re going to have to be prepared that writing includes marketing, interpersonal and organisational skills.

This is what makes writing a career.

Looking at some of the most successful films and novels, every author, director and every screenwriter had persisted, even through rejections- they never gave up. They carried on and finally their efforts paid off.

Now, I’ve taken the plunge and have a few short stories written and just had a flash fiction published with a university magazine. I’ve been also working on a novel. Halfway through it.

Once you’ve accepted that you’re a storyteller, you can start looking at literary magazines to get published with.

Japanese Movie Review: Game

 

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Starring……

Juri Katsuragi portrayed by Yukie Nakama

Shunsuke Sakuma portrayed by Naohito Fujiki

Katsutoshi Katsuragi portrayed by Ryo Ishibashi (starred in The Grudge & The Grudge 2)

Written by Keigo Higashino- an award winning thriller novelist, this movie is a clever craft of suspense and wits. The central theme?  A mind game. Between one man aspiring in his career, a shrewd businessman and his pretty daughter called ‘Juri’.

Even though this movie was released in 2003, it still has that contemporary feel because of its cleverness and its way of keeping us viewers guessing. The premise of this movie is Shunsuke/Sakuma-San’s revenge which leads to a fake kidnapping involving ‘Juri’. Why? To blackmail her father- the shrewd businessman who seems to be a professional at this mind game. Shunsuke/Sakuma-San is shown to be an awkward and lonely young man who lives in a swanky penthouse suite with awards under his belt. He is show to be the weakest character in the beginning who meets the charming but irritating Juri whom is seen escaping from her father’s house.

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He follows her to a hotel and this is where the story actually starts. They meet and dislike each other from the start. She is shown to be a rebel of a daughter who dreams of travelling. Taking pity on her thinking that Katsutoshi has victimised them both, he lets her stay with him. With her suggestions of a fake kidnap, he carries the plot forward doing what he thinks is working. Yukie Nakama’s performance as Juri Katsurogi was solid and well played, as with her straight face and annoying girl persona, you wouldn’t have guessed who she really was.

The two of them end up bickering for added tension and talk about their dreams, Juri dreams of digging for some gold and it seems like she wants the reluctant Shunsuke to join her. Romance slowly ensures with some awkward and funny dialogue such as, “You heard of the Stockholm syndrome?” when Sakuma-San tries to stop Juri from kissing him.

There are some background music which gives the movie a silly feel at times, with a sad piano sound at inappropriate times and the love scene is cheesy, best to forward it.

They set up their scene, the father drops in the money with little to hardly any police action which should have been noticed by Sakuma-San before- a flaw in this movie. The turning point in this movie is when Sakuma realises that the woman he had known for the past few days is NOT Juri. He was merely a puppet in father and daughter’s game.

Who was the woman he had spent the last few days with?

The ending has its own twist, giving us an unexpected winner.

How?

Just watch it and see.